Travel Insurance and Holiday Stress: The ConclusionNovember 17th, 2011
Ed. Note: This post is the second part of a two-part fable. The original installment can be found here. If you’re following along to try to guess the number of travel preparation mishaps made by this family, answers appear in bold at the end of this post.
When we left our traveling family, just about every aspect of their holiday plans had gone painfully awry. It would be both easy and false to try to wrap this story up with a neat bow and say that travel insurance could have prevented this family from experiencing any of the stresses they encountered. Sadly, travel insurance can’t stop snowstorms, it can’t help you clear security properly, and it can’t turn back time to help the kids get to the sledding hill on time. However, it is an important step in preparing for holiday travel, and it can make the inconveniences of botched plans a little easier to swallow, especially at a time of year when patience for disruptions is in such short supply.
If this family had been properly prepared for their trip, the story might have looked more like this:
Once upon a time, Mom, Dad, Sally, and Billy were on their way over the river, through the woods, and across the country on an airplane to Grandma’s house for the holidays. They had already shipped most of their gifts directly to Grandma’s, but there were a few last-minute items that needed to be brought on the plane with them. Realizing that they wouldn’t fit in the carry-on luggage, Mom snapped quick pictures of each gift with her smartphone, then packed them in her checked bag and slipped the receipts for each present into her purse, just in case anything went wrong.
The family called the airline before leaving the house, and since their flight appeared to be on time, they set out for the airport. Dad was adamant that they be in the security line three hours in advance, just to make sure there was plenty of time to get through the holiday crowds. As Mom helped the kids out of the car, she noticed that Sally was carrying her purse. Quickly, they went through the contents and left the larger bottles of hand lotion and nail polish in the glove compartment of their car, keeping only the items that would be sure to pass the 3-1-1 test.
Once they’d cleared security, the family found a flight status board, which showed that their plane was now delayed. All of Sally and Billy’s wishing for snow on the sledding hills had paid off – a bit too much, in fact. A snowstorm had brought the deep drifts they wanted; but it had also brought the airports near Grandma’s house to a standstill.
No aircraft but Santa’s sleigh could possibly fly in or out of the area until the snow had stopped and was cleared from the runways. After a few hours of waiting, the flight was officially cancelled. Mom immediately called their travel insurance company and explained the situation. The representative she spoke with helped arrange comfortable lodgings for the family at a nearby hotel and reminded Mom that if she needed to feed the family at a restaurant, their travel insurance policy would help pay for those expenses – as long as Mom and Dad remembered to keep their receipts. While the family went to the concourse to eat dinner, the travel insurance company continued to work on getting them booked on another flight.
Although they did have to sleep at the hotel that night, they were grateful for comfortable beds. Dad spent some time that evening making sure that they had all the documentation they would need to file a claim with the insurance company, feeling relieved that their policy would be able to cover the cost of the hotel stay and the food and toiletries they’d had to buy to get through the night. The family was able to catch an early morning flight to Grandma’s, thanks to the rebooking help they’d gotten from the insurance company’s travel assistance line. They got there just in time for the first tasting of the hot cocoa, and while the kids hit the sledding hills, Dad called the travel insurance company yet again to make sure that they were covered for the extra gifts that had been lost with the family’s luggage. Thanks to Mom’s quick thinking in bringing photos and receipts for all the packed items, he was assured he would have enough information to file a claim. Better yet, Grandma had the wonderful idea of printing copies of the pictures and wrapping them for the children, so they could see the gifts Mom and Dad would be replacing for them when they got home from their trip. It wasn’t exactly what everyone had hoped their holiday would be, but at least they were safe, warm, and together, with the majority of their gifts tucked beneath the tree and the peace of mind that they wouldn’t have to add the costs of all the travel disruptions to their post-holiday bills.
As always, we wish everyone safe and happy travels – whether you’re off to Grandma’s for the family sledding party, or heading someplace warm and sunny for your seasonal cheer. When you’re making your preparations, please consider adding travel insurance to your must-have list this year. If you have any questions about choosing the policy that’s best for your family, call our Customer Care Center at 800-487-4722.
For those who were keeping track of the travel mistakes made by our traveling family, we counted at least seven: 1) Packing gifts in checked luggage; 2) Wrapping the gifts before packing; 3) Not checking flight status before going to the airport; 4) Not leaving enough time to clear security; 5) Not preparing for security with appropriate footwear and abiding by the 3-1-1 rule; 6) Throwing away food receipts; 7) Not having documentation of valuables in lost luggage.
Can you see any other ways our family might have been better prepared? Leave a comment and share your best holiday travel tips.